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Comparing Emperors: Anastasius vs. Justinian

Ahmed Ayed

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Comparing Emperors: Anastasius vs. Justinian

About Dr. Fiona Haarer and this TKS episode:

Dr Fiona Haarer specialises in the history of the 5th and 6th centuries as a period of transition from classical to medieval as well as the Byzantine world. In this episode of The Know Show Podcast she draws from her vast knowledge to discuss and compare both roman emperors Anastasius and Justinian.

 

A brief synopsis:

In this TKS episode, Dr. Fiona Haarer explains her interest in Anastasius, which was sparked during her master’s degree in Oxford. She describes her excitement about the relatively unstudied emperor.
She gives a brief explanation of Anastasius’ background, his connection to court and how he came emperor. She explains he was well known for his domestic policies as well as unorthodox beliefs that became problematic for him during his reign. Anastasius’ is portrayed to be meticulous in his care for the empires finances, which together with the laws he passed, aided his rule. His financial growth considerably benefited Justinian, who was not as financially conscious, and who fought a lot of costly wars.

Fiona goes on to compare how the two emperors dealt with resistance movements and rioters. She tells a story of Anastasius, who dispersed rioters in the hippodrome by taking off his crown. She juxtaposes this with a famous riot during the Justinian reign, where Justinian ordered the executions of faction leaders, ruling through fear.

Justinian was not able to appeal to the rioters, and they were completely out of hand and he ended up sending his troops who massacred about 30,000 people in the hippodrome.

Dr. Fiona Haarer

 

Dr. Fiona Haarer also discusses Justinian and his idea of bringing both East and West empires together under his reign. Justinian’s ultimate vision was to reign over both regions, and bring the church in Constantinople to be in communion with the Roman church, which he achieved. 

Fiona talks about the areas for future research in this area, and especially her interest in the transition between the old classical world and the Byzantine world. Fiona concludes by offering advice for people who are looking to get into classics.

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TKS take home points:

In this TKS episode, the comparisons between the two emperors become clear. Despite their differences in ruling, their goal was the same, which was to help Constantinople grow and flourish. Importantly, Fiona shows that the outcome of their decisions during their reign can still be seen to this day.

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